At the risk of jinxing things, I have to say that our garden is really doing well this year. We have tons of tomatoes that will be ready for picking next week. The herbs are going crazy. The Italian parsley and the dill are about three feet tall with lots of leaves, the oregano and sage are threatening to take over, and the basil is getting taller and bushier. If I can just keep the june bugs from devouring all of those tasty basil leaves, then we'll have a bumper crop this year.
Michael and I grow lots of basil each year in several varieties. Throughout the summer we cut the leaves and use them in pesto, other pasta sauces, or as a layer in lasagna. Even with frequent use, we often have many plants left over at the end of the season. So we cut them all down and spend an afternoon making pesto and freezing it. You can freeze small blocks of it in ice cube trays, then put the blocks into freezer bags. We find those very convenient in the wintertime for making sauces or just thawing a few to toss with linguine.
We use basil pesto in just about everything: pasta, salads, tucked in omelets, and toppings for grilled meat or fish.
We vary the recipe a little depending on our whims. If we don't have any pine nuts on hand, we'll skip those. We also make a tasty Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto that's based on this recipe.
[Updated October 3, 2010.]
Basic Basil Pesto
- food processor
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves (packed)
- 1 clove garlic
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese (skip for vegan pesto)
- In a food processor, finely chop basil, garlic, and nuts together. Slowly add oil. Gradually add cheese until blended. Toss mixture into hot pasta and serve immediately.